4 Tips to Be a More Patient Plant Parent

There's no use crying over wilted leaves. Slow down and take a breather with Plant Kween Christopher Griffin as they share helpful houseplant care tips that take the stress out of indoor gardening from their book, "YOU GROW, GURL! Plant Kween's Lush Guide to Growing Your Garden."

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May 06, 2022

Photo by: Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com) | YOU GROW, GURL! by Christopher Griffin. Copyright © 2022 by Christopher Griffin. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com) | YOU GROW, GURL! by Christopher Griffin. Copyright © 2022 by Christopher Griffin. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Gurl, growth takes time! As you welcome your green gurls into your home, be patient with these kweens as they get adjusted to their new environment. They are getting used to new lighting conditions, room temperatures and humidity levels, so it is only natural for them to experience stress when you welcome them to a new home.


One summer I felt bold and decided to welcome Ms. Fiddle-Leaf Fig (aka Ms. Ficus lyrata) into my plant fam. This green gurl had been on my plant wish list for a couple of months and I was simply obsessed with her chic, heavily veined, violin-shaped leaves. I had heard that she could be a temperamental kween, but I felt ready to take on the challenge; after all, this kween of a plant parent did all her research and was prepared.

Photo by: Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com) | YOU GROW, GURL! by Christopher Griffin. Copyright © 2022 by Christopher Griffin. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com) | YOU GROW, GURL! by Christopher Griffin. Copyright © 2022 by Christopher Griffin. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


Gurl, I was checking in on this kween every day, making sure she wasn’t dropping any leaves, that no leaves were beginning to brown, checking her soil to see if it had become too dry. I was one of those helicopter plant parents! She had been in her ideal sunny lil corner for about two weeks and no new growth.

I figured that perhaps the spot I had placed her in was not bright enough and so I began to move her around my room, trying to see if brighter spots would provoke her to start serving new growth realness. After moving her around a few times, there came a morning when I found one of her leaves on my bedroom floor.

Gurl, I was devastated! I had been so attentive, putting in all this time and energy and she lost a leaf! That kween eventually went to the lil botanical garden in the sky. I tried a number of times to care for this kween only to end in a classic plant parent fail each time. I came to the conclusions that:

1. I was not as good a plant parent as I thought, and

2. Ms. Moody Fiddle-Leaf Fig and I were not a match.

How to Care for a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Pruning, watering, repotting, oh my! Keep your finicky ficus alive and thriving with our 10 easy-to-follow tips.


Two years later I decided to give caring for Ms.Fiddle-Leaf Fig another try. I remember the moment so vividly. I was in a coffee shop on a random weekend werking on some planty projects. I was in such a groove that I was a bit startled when I heard a voice so I say, “Oh, you’re into plants too?!” There was a woman sitting next to me with her laptop open werking on her own projects. She had glanced over at my laptop filled with images of greenery I was using to create a planty workshop slide deck.

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“Yeah, I’m pretty obsessed with them!” She had a plant fam of her own but was moving to Cali later that week and had decided to leave them with her roommates. “Moving is stressful, and I don’t want to put my plants through that,” she said with such calmness in her voice that you knew that she had thought long and hard about that decision and made her peace with it.

As plant parents do, we went through our green gurl lists, sharing the occasional photo we had snapped on our phones. She showed me an image of a 7-foot fiddle-leaf fig in her gorgeous, classic prewar living room, and, gurl, I gagged! “How in the world are you able to keep that kween thriving and like she is?!”


She looked at me and said just one word, “Patience.” I looked at her, intrigued by her answer. She went on to tell me that she hadn’t moved that kween from her spot in over four years. “She struggled at first when I brought her home, but after a month or two she had acclimated, and was thriving.”


Perhaps that is what I did wrong. I didn’t give Ms.Fiddle-Leaf Fig a chance to get settled. I needed to leave her be and let her get acclimated to my space on her own schedule, not mine. I left the coffee shop shortly after and headed to a plant shop to pick up my tenth fiddle-leaf fig. Happy to say that with some TLC and patience this green gurl is thriving and serving lushness. We just have to be a bit more patient with some plants, as they may need a little more time to get settled into a new space.

Photo by: Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com) | YOU GROW, GURL! by Christopher Griffin. Copyright © 2022 by Christopher Griffin. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com) | YOU GROW, GURL! by Christopher Griffin. Copyright © 2022 by Christopher Griffin. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


It took me a while, but I’ve had to learn to practice that plant parent patience! Let’s say it again for the folks in the back: PRACTICE PLANT PARENT PATIENCE! It is our role as the proud caregivers of these green kweens to minimize the stress they may experience when we welcome them into our spaces, and this can be done in a multitude of ways, dahling:


Leave that kween in one spot.

My biggest mistake with Ms. Fiddle-Leaf Fig was moving her all about in my space the first few weeks. By moving her all around, I robbed her of a chance to get settled into her own daily routine. So, I’ve learned to leave any new green gurls in one spot for at least a month before deciding to move them to a new location in my space. Give that kween time to adjust and trust that you have chosen the best spot for her.

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Photo by: Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com)

Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com)

Your green gurls may experience shock, and that’s okay.

We all know that moving is stressful, and the same goes for our green gurls! When being welcomed into a new environment, they may experience shock. Shock could look like leaves drooping or a leaf or two falling from the stem, vine, or base of the plant. In most situations this shock is a temporary experience for your new green gurl; as she gets adjusted to her new home, she’ll bounce back. There are generally two kinds of shock:


Plant Shock: This is a generalized term naming the stress a plant may experience due to abrupt changes in its overall situation: temperature changes, a different watering schedule, overfertilizing, changes in lighting, and/or drastic changes in humidity levels.


Transplant Shock: This is the stress that our green gurls experience when they are uprooted and/or repotted from their nursery pot to a new planter.

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Photo by: Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com)

Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com)

Don’t be all up on your green gurls; give them room to breathe.

It’s cute and necessary to occasionally check in on that new green gurl, but don’t be a helicopter plant parent like I was with Ms. Fiddle-Leaf Fig back in the day.

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Photo by: Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com)

Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com)


No new growth, no problem!

In a state of shock your green gurl may be conserving and concentrating her energy on maintaining what she has. That plant may not be in a state to serve new growth realness just yet, and that is okay. Also, some plants are just slow growers and take their well-deserved time before putting out new leaves. I’ve also had experiences where I have brought plants home that were serving new growth realness with cute baby leaves, only to have those baby leaves not make it.

Shock signals an interruption in the systemwide cycle performed by the roots and the leaves. Transpiration (the evaporation of moisture from the leaves) activates the movement of water and nutrients through the roots. Through photosynthesis, this intake of water and nutrients is converted into energy and food for this kween to sustain herself. This process is disturbed as we move her around and introduce her to new soil, which can cause younger, more vulnerable leaves to fall off.

Photo by: Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com) | YOU GROW, GURL! by Christopher Griffin. Copyright © 2022 by Christopher Griffin. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Phoebe Cheong (@welcometothejunglehome / http://phoebecheong.com) | YOU GROW, GURL! by Christopher Griffin. Copyright © 2022 by Christopher Griffin. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

My green gurls are a constant reminder that growth is a process that takes time, patience, and energy! As you bring that lush greenery into your space, understand that those green gurls deserve the opportunity to get a grasp on their new surroundings and they’ll be serving that new growth realness when they are well and ready!


There is a beautiful and intricate stillness that comes with growing plants, and you deserve to enjoy every minuscule moment of it. Don’t rush it, and understand that all of this is simply a part of the journey of being a plant parent. I’ve come to understand that just as I have my flow and rhythms through the day, my green gurls need to be able to establish their own flow and rhythms as well.

By practicing that plant parent patience, I have been able to slow down, take in the nature around me, and just enjoy the process of bringing greenery into my space. I put trust into my research and decisions about the green gurls I bring into my home and I trust in the resiliency of those green gurls to be able to get settled just fine with a lil bit of tender loving care and time.

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